When I first quit my day job to write full time I had a hundred ideas to make a living. The hard thing wasn’t coming up with ideas. The hard thing was saying no to ideas. I have a habit of changing direction. And, while it’s great to explore new roads, eventually we have to settle on one thing and commit to mastery in order to make a dent.
Steve Jobs described it perfectly, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things”.
Most people dabble. Few people commit to mastery. But those who do commit are the ones who go on to own their income and their time.
But how do you know whether to say yes or no to an idea?
Well, here are 5 questions to ask yourself to find out whether your idea is worth pursuing. If you can answer yes to question 5, I suggest going for it. If you can’t, which assuming you take the time to think deeply about your answers occurs 999 times in a 1,000. I suggest you say no.
1. What do you want from this idea?
2. Why do you want this? (ask why 5 times)
3. What does success look like?
4. How do you get this?
5. Does the answer to question 2 justify doing the answer to question 4 for five years?
Here’s an example:
1. What do I want? I want to distill lessons from the world’s greatest minds to help others be the best version of themselves.
2. Why do I want this? Because I want to learn from more experienced minds. Why do I want to learn from more experienced minds? Because I want to be the best version of myself. Why do I want to be the best version of yourself? Because I want to make others happy. Why do I want to make others happy? Because this makes me happy. Why does this make me happy? Because I’m at peace when I have a purpose bigger than myself.
3. What does success look like? I have 1,000 true fans.
4. How do I get this? I write every day. I publish as often as possible. I try to solve genuine problems. I say no to 1,000 other things.
5. Does the answer to question 2 justify doing the answer to question 4 for five years? Yes.
PS. I wrote this for myself. But I thought it might help you too.